Robinson Jeffers





From At the Birth of an Age

THE HANGED GOD:  Pain and their endless cries. How they cry to
      me: but they are I: let them ask themselves.
I am they, and there is nothing beside. I am alone and time passes,
      time also is in me, the long
Beat of this unquiet heart, the quick drip of this blood, the whirl
      and returning waves of these stars,
The course of this thought.
My particles have companions and happy fulfilments, each star
      has stars to answer him and hungry night
To take his shining, and turn it again and make it a star; each
      beast has food to find and his mating,
And the hostile and helpful world; each atom has related atoms,
      and hungry emptiness around him to take
His little shining cry and cry it back; but I am all, the emptiness
      and all, the shining and the night.
All alone, I alone.
                            If I were quiet and emptied myself of pain,
      breaking these bonds,
Healing these wounds: without strain there is nothing. Without
      pressure, without conditions, without pain,
Is peace; that's nothing, not-being; the pure night, the perfect
      freedom, the black crystal. I have chosen
Being; therefore wounds, bonds, limits and pain; the crowded
      mind and the anguished nerves, experience and ecstasy.
Whatever electron or atom or flesh or star or universe cries to me,
Or endures in shut silence: it is my cry, my silence; I am the
      nerve, I am the agony,
I am the endurance. I torture myself
To discover myself; trying with a little or extreme experiment
      each nerve and fibril, all forms
Of being, of life, of cold substance; all motions and netted com-
      plications of event,
All poisons of desire, love, hatred, joy, partial peace, partial vi-
      sion. Discovery is deep and endless,
Each moment of being is new: therefore I still refrain my burn-
      ing thirst from the crystal-black
Water of an end.
                            My lips crack with their longing for it,
My wounds are fires, the white bones glitter in my iron-eaten
      wrists, blood slowly falls, blinding white bands
Of fire flow through the strained shoulder-blades, so that I groan
      for an enemy to kill: there is none: I alone.
Stars are condensed from cloud and flame as it were immortally,
      and faint and have ceased, and their slag finds
After enormous ages the mother cloud; self-regenerating universes
      all but eternally
Shine, tire, and die; new stars fling out new planets, strange
      growths appear on them, new-formed little lamps of flickering
Flesh for the same flame.
                            ... On earth rise and fall the ages
      of man, going higher for a time; this age will give them
Wings, their old dream, and unexampled extensions of mind; and
      slowly break itself bloodily; one later
Will give them to visit their neighbor planets and colonize the
      evening star; their colonies die there; the waves
Of human dominion dwindle down their long twilight; another
      nature of life will dominate the earth,
Feathered birds, drawing in their turn the planetary
Consciousness up to bright painful points, and accuse me of in- 
      flicting what I endure. These also pass,
And new things are; and the shining pain. . . .
                            Every discovery
      is a broken shield, a new knife of consciousness
Whetted for its own hurt; pain rises like a red river: but also
      the heroic beauty of being,
That all experience builds higher, the stones are the warring
      torches, towers on the flood. I have not chosen
To endure eternally; I know not that I shall choose to cease; I
      have long strength and can bear much.
I have also my peace; it is in this mountain. I am this mountain
      that I am hanged on, and I am the flesh
That suffers on it, I am tortured against the summit of my own
      peace and hanged on the face of quietness.
I am also the outer nothing and the wandering infinite night.
      These are my mercy and my goodness, these
My peace. Without the pain, no knowledge of peace, nothing.
      Without the peace,
No value in the pain. I have long strength.
SINGERS:  The long river
Dreams in the sunset fire
Shuddering and shining.
All the drops of his blood are torches.
I am one with him, I will share his being.